THE doors of the famous Blue Room swung open, the photographers took

careful aim, and the latest Rangers' star was born. Duncan Ferguson, the

one Rangers simply would not allow to get away, strolled in looking just

slightly overawed by his new environment, but he will fit in quickly. He

will have to.

Rangers were forced to increase their original offer of #2.5m to

Dundee United for the 21-year-old striker to #4m and for that kind of

money, a record transfer fee between two British clubs, they will demand

a substantial return over the four years of Ferguson's contract.

His appearance at Ibrox last night came after a day of negotiation,

despite United's continued insistence that nothing would happen until

after their board meeting tomorrow, and finally ended speculation about

his future.

When it became known the Tannadice club were willing to listen to

offers for their player, who has the potential to become the best

striker in the country, several clubs snapped to attention.

Bayern Munich hovered for a while, and then it seemed Ferguson was

bound for Leeds United, who increased the stakes to #3.5m. Ferguson

travelled to Elland Road for talks, but rejected their offer even though

he knew he might lose out if Rangers were unprepared to up their offer.

''It was a gamble, but my heart was never in a move to Leeds,'' he said.

''This club, Rangers, is the one I wanted. This is the biggest day of my


Knowing that Ferguson, who has been earmarked for a Scotland striking

role alongside his new clubmate, Ally McCoist, wanted to play for them,

Rangers remained in pursuit.

Asked if there had been any moments when he had given up hope of

landing Ferguson, the Ibrox club's chairman, David Murray, said: ''I

never give up.

''It helped, of course, that he wanted to play for this club. He has

Rangers at heart, but that was not something we took advantage of.''

His determination, and also that of his manager, Walter Smith, was

rewarded at 5pm last night when the deal was concluded. United will

receive #3.75m and a further #250,000 after Ferguson has made 200

appearances for Rangers, who knew they had their man on Tuesday when

United's vice chairman, Doug Smith, telephoned to say that if they would

increase their offer to #3.75m, they could have permission to speak to


Walter Smith rushed back from Rangers' training camp in Tuscany to

become involved in negotiations at Murray's business headquarters in

Edinburgh and he will return to Italy with the player this morning.

''It might seem a lot of money to be paying for a young boy, but

transfer fees are escalating and we don't control that.

''Also, I don't believe age comes into it. This is all about ability,

and I'm sure Duncan Ferguson's ability will match his transfer fee,'' he


There is no doubt Smith has bought himself a player with immense and

exciting potential, but to succeed with either of the Old Firm, and

especially with Rangers, who have set their sights on the European Cup,

players have to mature quickly in a personality sense as well. Ferguson

is about to discover how difficult life with a club like Rangers can be

unless a player surrounds himself with the right people.

''I know there will be pressures attached to playing with the biggest

club in Britain, but I have confidence in my ability and I'm sure that

Rangers will get their money's worth from me,'' he said. ''I want to

achieve everything with this club and to do that I have to concentrate

on my football now.''

Although Rangers have had to break the British record to sign

Ferguson, Murray said that did not necessarily mean their spending was

over for another year. ''We used to think we were a big club,'' the

chairman said, ''but we are the biggest club in Britain. Signings like

this will have to be a regular feature.

''We can't just have one-offs. we want to go all the way and the

spending might not be over.''

Murray added that he felt it was significant that his money was

remaining in Scotland and that a player of Ferguson's potential also was

staying in the premier division. If he develops under Smith and the

influence of the more experienced players at Ibrox, he would have an

excellent chance of becoming a genuine superstar, but he must remember

that what happened last night was only the beginning.

United's chairman, Jim McLean, whose anger at the initial interest in

Ferguson by Rangers led to the Ibrox club being fined #5000 by the

Scottish League, did not want to sell his most prized possession to

Murray's team, but the offer became one he could not refuse and his own

manager, Ivan Golac, will now be able to stengthen his team. His first

move will be to spend #700,000 on Partizan Belgrade's central defender

Gorden Pertic.

Ferguson, though, has much to learn on and off the pitch and if he

succeeds, then all of us, Rangers and Scottish football, will benefit.